Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act
The Government of Canada is committed to fighting terrorism and to holding the supporters and perpetrators of terrorism accountable for their actions. The Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act complements Canada’s existing counter-terrorism measures and is aimed at deterring terrorism, responding to calls from victims, and demonstrating Canada’s leadership against supporters of terrorism around the world.
The Bill will create a cause of action for victims of terrorism allowing them to sue perpetrators and supporters of terrorism. It will also lift the immunity of those states that the Government believes are supporters of terrorism through a listing mechanism.
The proposed legislation will allow any person who can demonstrate a real and substantial connection between their cause of action and Canada to sue in a Canadian court the foreign states that perpetrate and support terrorism. Plaintiffs can seek redress for terrorist acts committed anywhere in the world on, or after, 1 January 1985.
When a victim of terrorism files an action to seek redress for loss or damages resulting from a terrorist act, the court would decide whether it can hear the case. Courts normally consider a number of factors to determine whether they can hear a case. These include, among other things, the link between the court and the plaintiff as well as the defendant, and the involvement of other parties.
Should the court hear the cause and a judgment be issued in favour of the victim, the defendant has an obligation to comply with the court’s decision. Failure to do so could expose the defendant to seizure of assets and property. In a case involving a listed state, a successful plaintiff could request assistance from the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Finance to identify and locate the assets under Canadian jurisdiction of the state. Ministers will consider Canada’s interests and international relations in determining if and to what extent they may provide assistance.
If the defendant has assets located in a foreign jurisdiction, the plaintiff would have to follow the process of the foreign state for recognition of the judgment and subsequently take necessary measures to execute the judgment in that country.
The Government of Canada is determined to take decisive steps to protect Canadians from the threat of terrorism. By tabling this legislation, the Government of Canada is sending a clear message that perpetrators of terrorism and their supporters will be held accountable for their actions.